AFL Draft Weekly Wrap: Bulldogs father-son prospect Sam Darcy dominates for Vic Metro

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Each week, ESPN.com.au AFL draft expert Chris Doerre casts his eye over the country's best junior footballers to give readers an early insight into the next generation of AFL stars.

As well as attending live games, Doerre pores through match vision, analyses the stats and talks to industry sources to ensure he can offer the most insightful draft analysis.

Aside from the weekly wraps, Doerre will also unveil his power rankings at the end of each month and as we get closer to November's national draft, Doerre will also predict who goes where with his annual phantom draft.

Player focus

Player focus

With the most dominant display so far this season in the junior ranks, Western Bulldogs father-son prospect Sam Darcy (son of Luke) wowed watchers for Vic Metro in Trial Match 2 against Vic Country. The performance instantly elevated him into the No. 1 pick conversation.

AFL club recruiters go along to games often looking for just glimpses of potential, but with every involvement,Darcy exerted his influence with a rare level of diversity for a key forward. Darcy was so dominant in the second quarter that he attracted a double and triple-team in the second half, which did little to quell his influence.

Standing 204 centimetres tall, Darcy has shown in previous matches he can play as a key defender and ruckman as required, but the trial match made it clear he has game changing capabilities as a key forward and that that's where he's best suited long term.

Shooting up seven centimetres since the start of 2020, Darcy still has room to grow, and despite a physically light frame at this point, he uses his body incredibly well one-on-one, attacks the ball aggressively aerially, and reads and protects the drop of the ball to perfection. His reach is long and he'll often take marks fully extended. Other strengths include his ability to read the ball in flight, and his ability to take strong, one-grab, contested marks.

While Darcy's contested marking capabilities may be his most significant weapon, the number of ways impacts games is what makes him special. He's a rare athlete. He creates separation on the lead, has impressive agility for someone his height, and his one-touch pickups at ground level and instinctive finishing around goal is notable.

The moment of the game -- and it was the moment that turned the game on its head -- came eight minutes into the second quarter with Vic Metro trailing by 26-points. Darcy, with his opponent trailing him inside 50, picked up the ball off the bounce one-touch, faked one way, turned the other, and instinctively snapped a goal, in a play that displayed the instincts and fluidity of a talented small forward.

With a playing style not dissimilar to Max King, Darcy felt like he found twice as much of the ball as he actually did, finishing with 10 disposals, seven marks (four contested), six goals and three behinds.

The areas of work for Darcy will be adding strength to his still light frame, and at the same time building up his endurance, which will take a few years before allowing him to become a dominant player at AFL level.

Rising stocks

Game 1:

Vic Metro:

Looking a class above with his ball use and composure with ball in hand, Josh Ward has entered the first-round conversation over these past couple of weeks. Ward lowered his eyes and hit targets inside 50 consistently. He also had one of the best moments of the game, running at high speed for 40 metres before calmly composing himself and finishing from 30 out. The classy midfielder managed 22 disposals, seven tackles and one goal. This follows on from his 34-disposal display against Oakleigh where he went head-to-head and held his own for much of the game with Nick Daicos the week prior.

Vic Country:

Looming as a ready-made midfielder, Ben Hobbs, who made his NAB League comeback the week prior on return from an ankle injury sustained in April, built on his strong play in a best afield performance. Emerging as a top-10 fancy, Hobbs played a complete game. He won the ball at stoppages, attacked the ball with aggression, used the ball effectively and found it at will around the ground. He was also a threat forward of centre, reading the ball well in flight and providing a marking target. The ball magnet amassed 37 disposals, nine marks and two goals.

Game 2:

Vic Metro:

Putting on an intercept marking clinic, Karl Worner pushing back several times into defence and read the ball to perfection. Showing glimpses of AFL talent and courage, the overager managed 30 disposals, 15 marks (two contested) and two score assists.

Vic Country:

Announcing himself as arguably the premier crumbing forward in this year's pool, Judson Clarke put himself into the first-round conversation, producing 22 disposals, nine marks and five goals. Not only was Clarke's ground level work exceptional, but he showed speed, agility and was incredible by foot both finishing around goal and hitting up targets inside 50m.

Top 10 prospect watch

NAB League

Potential top-10 selection Josh Sinn made his NAB League return for Sandringham. The talented running defender delighted onlookers in the first quarter, breaking the game open with his run. While his short kicking was sound, over medium and longer distances his kicking let him down. Sinn secured 13 disposals for Sandringham in their convincing 97-point win against a depleted Oakleigh side, playing reduced game time to ease him back into match play.

2022 draft watch

Under-17 Championships:

Vic Metro vs. Vic Country standouts:

Brisbane father-son prospect Will Ashcroft was the clear-cut best-on-ground for Vic Metro in their 34-point win against Vic Country. The son of Brisbane premiership midfielder, Marcus, amassed 33 disposals, 20 contested possessions, 12 clearances, nine inside-50s and two goals in a dominant display. The mix of winning first possession at stoppages, quick hands, agility, and evasion in traffic in combination with his vision, kicking to targets inside 50, and hitting the scoreboard stood out. Ashcroft's performance puts him into early No. 1 pick contention for next year's draft, with his late goal from 50m on the run capping off the complete display.

In defence for Vic Country, James Van Es stood out with his reading of the ball in flight, one-on-one intercept marking, kicking and vision from defence. The promising key defender secured 11 disposals and seven marks (two contested).